Community members call for extra law enforcement to police Rochester streets

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Community members are calling for extra law enforcement to police the streets.

Rochester Police Chief David Smith says “high visibility and patrol” is what’s next. He says with the help of community action groups, “outreach” is not helping.

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Rochester police are now working 12-hour shifts instead of eight after a 3-year-old baby boy was put in the hospital. The baby was collateral damage during a firefight of 25-30 rounds on North Clinton Avenue.
Smith says the only option the department has right now is to scatter officers across that neighborhood.

His officers are stretched thin and exhausted, and the amount of overtime the department is using to fight Rochester violence has hit a record in the history of the department. Smith says the manpower shortage is an issue.

And trying to bring in National Guard might not be an option. Smith says they’re not trained to deal with what RPD deals with daily.

“Every law enforcement agency in the country is facing manpower shortages,” Smith said. “And we keep hearing well, the national guard, come up. And well the national guard is not police officers. They’re not trained as we are trained. It’s not their job. We’ve had the community affairs bureau out there on foo. We’ve had the traffic unit there. We’ve done high visibility. We’ve walked it. We have done outreach. We will do high visibility for as long as we can. Resources are not indefinite. Officers have lives and this is hard on them.”

During a press conference Thursday afternoon Chief Smith’s emotions were heavy when talking about pre-trial detainment as a resource the department needs to keep re-offenders off the streets.

“We empower them with the ability to impose sentences to make high-level decisions but yet we don’t want to give them that discretion for pretrial detainment,” Smith said. “Take bail off the table. Eliminate bail. We’re talking about pretrial detainment.”

Smith said there will be extra police patrolling the North Clinton area over the weekend and into next week in an effort to send a message.